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The Great Roma Questionnaire Extraordinaire: 2017 Edition, Part II

In part two we explore some Roma-related concerns

Sevilla FC v AS Roma - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images

It’s part two of our annual roundtable discussion. If you missed part one, a look at Serie A as whole, never fear it’s right here. Today we shift the discussion and focus solely on Roma.

1) To recap: Roma had a record breaking season last year, lost their manager and then summarily sold off two key players, Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger, as well as dispatching Leandro Paredes to Russia. In three sentences or less, how are you, as of this exact moment, feeling about the 2017-2018 season?

JonAS: “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I take a look at my Roma and realize there's nothin' left. ‘Cause they’ve been selling and pondering so long that even my momma thinks that my faith is gone!”

Bren: Never thought I’d live to see the day Coolio was quoted on CdT but here we are! Last year I was cautiously optimistic, this year I’m pragmatically pessimistic. There is a ton of talent on the squad, but I’m not sold on EDF being the right man for the job; this club is no longer built for the 4-3-3.

Jimmy: The talent’s there to at least repeat last year’s performance. The question in my mind is how Eusebio Di Francesco will work with this side. There will be bumps in the road but I think we’ll have a season of fun football while contending for the S*******.

ASRCanes: They also lost the heart and soul of the club. A legend. Combining all of this together, I have low expectations as this is pretty much a complete rebuild at this point. Finish 4th and I am satisfied. If there’s some beautiful play along the way, even better. I just don’t see them challenging Juve or Napoli.

AsRemus: I agree with Canes and Bren. EDF will do well with our young players, but tactically he’ll fail at Roma. Spalletti built a strong squad with a fluid system, he just didn’t have the depth necessary to compete in three competitions. We needed him to stay this year with reinforcements. His departure will prove costly for us.

Sam: The team has been weakened. The opposition have been strengthened. The suit’s are aiming for fourth.

2) Regardless of your first response, what is the one thing that could curtail Roma’s progress this season, their Achilles heel if you will.

JonAS: Once again it will be the defence that drags Roma down. Kolarov was a splendid move and Manolas stayed in the end, but Manolas’ partner in crime, be it Fazio, Moreno or Juan, will have a hard time I reckon. All three are decent but you need at least two superb CB’s to even think of the Scudetto. Think Nesta-Thiago Silva at Milan in 2011 or the famous Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini or Samuel-Lucio at Inter in 2010. Manolas-Fazio-Rudiger could have been a new winning combination, alas. Rudiger was sold and EDF doesn’t seem interested in a 3-4-3.

Bren: I think the defense will be okay, but your concern speaks to my point, EDF’s tactics. Federico Fazio was so amazing last year thanks in large part to Spalletti’s tactics--he’s simply too slow to thrive in a four man backline, and I don’t have faith in Hector Moreno in a full-time role, so the backline might be in peril after all. But in the broader point, I’m still flummoxed why they went with a 4-3-3 coach when the team, as presently constructed, is anything but.

Jimmy: Roma’s Achilles heel is the anterior cruciate ligament.

ASRCanes: Goalkeeper and defense. I am still not sold on Alisson and prefer Skorupski. The defense has once again changed dramatically and will need time to gel. I think the midfield will get caught out of position more in EDFs tactics and the defense will suffer as a result.

AsRemus: All preseason our midfield has been nonexistent. With the players we have the center of the park should be our dominant area. I fear mismanaged tactics with our D.R.S (DDR, Radja, Stroots) will cripple us.

Sam: I can’t see how 4-3-3 plays to our strengths as it kind of bypasses the midfield. Roma isn’t really the place for patience, yet once again we are all being asked to be patient while the team tries to work itself out again. Is this the question I’m allowed to complain about us pissing around the US instead of sorting all this crap out in a quiet spot in the mountains?

3) Flip it around, what is the one thing EDFs Roma will be able to hang their hat on? The one thing that should give us seem all hope?

JonAS: The dynamic and combative midfield. Radja, DDR and Strootman will carry the team when all else fails.

Bren: Yeah, can’t argue with you on that one. Adding Lorenzo Pellegrini and Maxime Gonalons to the mix certainly gives Roma one of the best midfields in the game. It will be interesting to see who takes on the creative onus; last year it was Nainggolan in a more advanced role, but that doesn’t seem likely this year, but either way, Roma’s midfield runs five or six deep now. Pretty impressive.

Jimmy: I think the combination of the youth talent that’s been hoarded with a youth-oriented coach like EDF will cause at least a few stars to be born over the next year. Gerson, Pellegrini, Under, the other Pellegrini; I can see at least two of them busting their way into the starting eleven (though hopefully they’ll last longer at the Olimpico than Marquinhos did).

ASRCanes: The midfield is obviously great, but I’ll go with the striker position to change things up. Edin Dzeko seems to be getting little respect after a record setting year. His finish vs Sevilla should give confidence that he can produce another solid season, however, much will hinge on the play and service of those around him and the loss of Salah. I think having Defrel behind him will keep Dzeko motivated and at the top of his game, while Gregoire gives Roma a solid and flexible option off the bench. It isn’t the sexiest one-two punch on the peninsula, but I think it can be more than effective.

AsRemus: I’m at odds here with the optimism around our midfield. Yes, they are great players, but if tactics don’t suit their strengths then they will fail to be a cohesive unit. I think EDF will raise the value of our young players (Gerson, Under, Pellegrini) but other than that I just don’t think the guy is all that great. Despite the score lines (which have been abysmal too) the team’s movement and passing have been horrendous.

Sam: Probably our ability to score goals despite playing relatively crap. The individual talent is there to force the ball into the net one way or another. Kolarov is that sort of player, so is Dzeko.

4) Speaking of those departures, how will Roma cope without Rudiger, Salah and Paredes? How confident are you in their replacements?

JonAS: Kolarov and Pellegrini get an A rating. Moreno, Defrel and Gonalons are great for depth but not the same class as Salah or Paredes. Karsdorp’s career hasn’t started well with his lingering injury while he’s a very young right-back in a tactical league like Serie A which is not comparable with the Dutch Eredivisie. Under shows promise but we mustn't put too much pressure on the kid. So yeah, we still need to that AAA signing before the season starts to get my hopes up.

Bren: As we’re seeing with Roma’s unending pursuit of Riyad Mahrez, Salah will prove the most difficult to replace. Even I didn’t realize just how important he had become to everything Roma achieved the past couple seasons--he speed and playmaking isn’t easily replicated. I’m not too concerned about moving on without Rudiger, while Paredes will sting in a couple years time.

Jimmy: Every time a major player leaves Trigoria I’m worried that it’ll doom the club to mediocrity, but I’ve been proven wrong each time. I think that the combination of Pellegrini, Gonalons, and Gerson will more than fill the hole left by Paredes, and Moreno can certainly pair well with Fazio and Manolas. As with the rest of the writers, my biggest worry is the disappearance of everyone’s favorite Egyptian, but even if Roma doesn’t bring in a player like Riyad Mahrez or Quincy Promes I’m hoping that Cengiz Under or Marco Tumminello can become Di Francesco’s next Domenico Berardi.

ASRCanes: Only Paredes has been replaced in my eyes. Pellegrini and Gonalons + 10 million for Paredes was great business. Moreno is a depth signing. Calling him a replacement for Rudiger is insane. Replacing Salah will be near impossible.

AsRemus: Right you all are. Salah has yet to be replaced and he was our MVP last year. His ability to get behind the defense and provide assists to Dzeko cannot be overlooked. Without him, Dzeko will be lackluster. As for the additions, Moreno, Pelligrini, Gonalons, and Karsdorp are all quality players who will make us forget about Rudiger and Parades.

Sam: Did you guys hear that Roma paid 20M for Defrel? 20 fucking million! Selling Paredes is more of a loss in the future than the here and now, but still unbelievably frustrating. The replacements will take the compulsory 6-12 months to get used to everything. Pellegrini and Under offer a dash of optimism after a very bleak offseason.

5) In that same vein, who was Roma’s best signing of the summer and why?

JonAS: Kolarov. I mean, a fullback who can play a perfect long ball to Dzeko?! Wowzers! And for 5m that’s a steal for someone who can still give a good 2-3 years to the club. This has Tonetto written all over it and I like it.

Bren: Kolarov certainly looks like he’ll be a huge help, but I’m going to have to lean towards Cengiz Under; there’s just something about him that gets you excited. He won’t have as large an impact as Pellegrini in the immediate sense,but in terms of young talent on the squad, he’s perhaps the most impressive, but Kolarov will certainly have the most immediate impact.

Jimmy: I’ve been really excited by Under’s play in preseason, but my vote for best new signing is none other than Gerson Santos da Silva. I know he’s been in Italy since last preseason, but I think that Di Francesco is going to finally unleash Walter Sabatini’s 16 Million Euro Man, to the delight of all those Roma fans who miss pretty assists delivered by Francesco Totti (oh, and that Bosnian who plays for Juve, what’s his name again?).

ASRCanes: Kolarov. I’ve wanted him for years and he’s finally here. Perfect price and experience level. Will be a great 1-2 punch with Emerson when he returns or could slide over to LCB. Most of all, he gives Roma a threat on set pieces. He’s the new JAR.

AsRemus: For the sake of disagreement, I’ll say Karsdorp. Yeah, we haven’t even seen him in action, but I have a feeling he will show us all what a right-back looks like. Peres is not right-back… I’m not sure what he is, maybe a right-mid, but he can’t defend. Karsdorp’s success will be the catalyst for Florenzi’s return to winger, and that is one thing we can all get excited about. However, if Karsdorp can’t beat his knee issue then he could very well be the worst signing…

Sam: Under and Pellegrini are equal parts welcome doses of optimism that follow such a bleak offseason. Mind you Kolarov is a shrewd signing who should offer plenty straight out of the gate.

6) Okay, who was the worst signing? The one that made the least sense?

JonAS: There are not really bad signings until now, if we’re talking about Ibarbo,Cole, Spolli or Doumbia level. If I had to choose one, then I go for Defrel, strictly because his price tag was too big IMO. But the guy scored quite a bit last season and was one of Sassuolo’s pillars, so if he is supposed to be your ‘worst signing’ so far, then I’ll gladly take it. We’ve had worse mercato’s in the not so distant past.

Bren: Good point, Jonas. Nothing this year has been horrific, which is I guess improvement, right? But in terms of the oddest fit, I’ll have to agree with you. Defrel, at that price, doesn’t make a ton of sense unless they’re moving on from Dzeko.

Jimmy: Granted, I’m the conductor of the Marco Tumminello hype train, but I have to agree with Bren and JonAS here: I don’t understand the Gregoire Defrel signing beyond his connection to EDF. He’s a good striker, sure, but we already have last year’s capocannoniere. Buying Defrel just makes it that much harder for a young striker like Tumminello or Soleri to eventually break into the senior team. What happened to making Roma more Italian, Monchi?

ASRCanes: Rick Karsdorp. A ton of money for a young and relatively unproven kid from the Dutch league. With Florenzi and Peres already in the squad, this just seemed like a redundant transfer to me. Add in the fact that he was injured, and it really makes no sense.

AsRemus: True, there are questions about Karsdorp, but I think Defrel (especially for what we paid) makes no sense. If he serves as a backup to Dzeko, then maybe he’ll prove useful, but I think he will be our starting RW. This is a major downgrade to Salah, which makes me wonder why we didn’t save the money we spent on Defrel, pay the 40 Mil for Mahrez, and promote Sadiq. Or if not Sadiq, find a cheap alternative.

Sam: Defrel, Defrel, Defrel. Throw that amount of cash on someone who will make waves not back-up our bloody striker. Where’s Berardi? Why are they dicking about with the Mahrez buy over less than 5M when they can splash 20 big ones on this guy?! Oh and kudos on picking up a RB who already had a knee problem.

7) On a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being supremely confident) how are you feeling about Eusebio Di Francesco leading this squad?

Bren: Oof, I don’t know, five? I like the story of it all--returning to the place of his greatest glory--and his record with Sassuolo was pretty impressive, but he just reminds me of a Rudi Garcia/Zeman hybrid, which, good god. I certainly hope I’m wrong, but he seems too tactically intransigent to survive. While on the other hand, if he can get the best out of Under and Gerson, and all of Roma’s other young players, it might turn out alright.

JonAS: Seven. Hey someone has to keep the positive vibes coming, no? But I agree with Bren, his love for the 4-3-3 is nice and all but if it simply doesn’t work with the personnel at hand, there need to be changes. Zeman and Garcia kept on using the 4-3-3 and look how they ended their reign. Perhaps Eusebio is different because he’s still a young trainer. He looks hungry and knows what Roma is all about. That’s a huge advantage. I think he’ll survive this season, and park us nicely in a top 4 spot but don’t expect prizes anytime soon.

ASRCanes: Seven as well. I don’t have high expectations, so a fourth place finish and making it out of the CL group (all hinges on the draw) means a solid season. I feel “seven” confident he can lead Roma to that.

Jimmy: Eight. As I said before, I think we’ll see at least another second-place finish this year.

AsRemus: I am sorry to be a downer, guys, but I give a THREE. I am obviously scared about EDF. Yes, it has only been preseason, but he has undone the framework of Spalletti which was foundationally solid. I don’t understand the need to change anything, especially after a record breaking season. I hope I am wrong, but I haven’t seen anything to get excited about. The play has been uninspiring. I fell asleep during two of the preseason games. Again, I get it is preseason, but I recall Spalletti revitalizing the squad in three weeks… EDF has had plenty of time this summer to get this team to gel and produce glimpses of his tactics. All I’ve seen is quick, lazy passes, everyone rushing towards the player with the ball, and shoddy defending. Let’s hope we see progress.

Sam: Six. I’ve got nothing against him, but the circumstances that he has been thrown into has him on a hiding to nowhere. How is he meant to do better than last year’s points total with a weaker squad and a completely new tactical identity?

8) Many have casted EDF as merely another Rudi Garcia--are you buying that? And if so, what must he do to avoid a similar fate?

Bren: See above. I’m probably being too harsh and reacting to the summer, but they’re playing a lot like they did under Garcia, except without the benefit of surprise. People know EDF and know how to stop him, so I’m anxious to see how he’ll react when things turn sour.

JonAS: So Defrel is this year’s Gervinho, right? Right? Well, for starters Eusebio is Italian and not French, he’s got different ideologies on and off the field. Plus, I think we’re all putting too much thought into this. Who says Eusebio will be stubborn just like Garcia? Spalletti also shifted to a 3-4-2-1 formation a couple of times and he’s known to be a stubborn fella too. I expect Eusebio to change tactics if his approach doesn’t work, just like every other good trainer would do. He wants to save his job, you know. When I look at our roster, it’s got 3-5-2 written all over it, but hey, I’m just a small town boy from Belgium, writing on my laptop.

Jimmy: No, I don’t buy it, and not because I haven’t seen Di Francesco pull out a guitar and start playing Porompompero. I think that Eusebio is going to be more flexible with his tactics than Garcia was, and I also think that he’ll allow Roma’s younger players to develop in a way Rudi didn’t (remember when Mattia Destro got sent to the bench for no apparent reason?).

AsRemus: Damn, a lot of criticism for Garcia. Using hindsight to judge him is unfair. Did you all forget about the first ten games of Garcia’s reign? That was the most exciting football Roma produced for years. True, Garcia’s inflexible tactics led to his demise, but he did give Roma a spark of entertaining football. I am not saying he didn’t become lousy, of course he did, but he came and in and made Roma a damn good team for awhile. Comparably, EDF’s Roma will be less successful than Garcia’s Roma, but I don’t see their 4-3-3 systems as similar. Additionally, Serie A coaches already know EDF’s tactics, so any element of surprise is out the window.

ASRCanes: I don’t buy the comparison. They seem to be very different minus the preferred formation. I feel EDF has done a solid job of team building and getting control of the locker rooms so far, and that should go a long way (until he loses it). That, as usual, will be the downfall.

Sam: That’s a very lazy comparison. EDF’s track record on youth has him ahead of Garcia for me. To avoid the Rudi’s he needs to get the team playing exciting football with a bit of risk and swagger to it. It is honestly unfair to hold him to the standard of contending for a scudetto in his first year and I think ownership will be satisfied purely with making the champions league again.

9) Edin Dzeko was horrific in his first season and sublime in his second, which Dzeko will Roma see this season?

JonAS: Well, if we follow a logical path (good, bad, good, bad,...) he’ll suck this season. The loss of Salah could be an indication but Edin’s got more than enough cover to put some into the net: Radja, Pellegrini, SES, Gerson, Perotti, Defrel, the new guy (MAAAAHREZZZZZZ)... I predict he’ll still score about 10-15 goals which is nice for a 31-year-old. Only guys like Messi, Ronaldo or Higuain score 30+ goals on a regular basis

ASRCanes: As I said above, I think Dzeko will have another solid season with around 20 goals. Losing Salah will hurt no doubt, but it’s almost a wash in a way. Dzeko should get more chances due to Salah’s departure, which kind of negates the lost chances created by Salah for Dzeko. I also think Under/Florenzi will be solid in his place, while Perotti/SES will improve under EDF.

Bren: I’m not sure I can go as high as 20. Unfortunately, we won’t know until the season starts just how instrumental Mohamed Salah was in Dzeko’s success last season, but with his pedigree, you’d have to hope he’s good for at least 12 to 15 across all competitions, but I think last season will prove to be an outlier.

Jimmy: I think that the goalscoring duties might be more evenly spread out this year; as a result, I don’t see Edin repeating his incredible goalscoring numbers from last year. Even then, I think he’s got somewhere between 15 and 25 goals in him; it really depends on the service he can get. If Gerson develops into a key rotational midfielder or some other player becomes an assist machine, Dzeko will be closer to 25 goals than 15, but it really depends on the service.

AsRemus: Unless Dzeko loses his confidence, I think he’ll bang in double-digit goals this season. As said above, Salah’s departure will bring his tally down.

Sam: Purely from a tactical point of view, Dzeko won’t be getting as many chances to put away this year. It’ll be interesting to see if he can play provider once we sort out the right wing position. Overall I still think he has plenty to contribute to this side.

10) Cengiz Under has turned a lot of heads this summer, but what should we reasonably expect from him this year?

JonAS: Again, it depends on Roma’s remaining mercato. If the right wing stays as it is (BUT WHY? MAAAAAHREZZZZZ!), I can see the young Turk (great song from Rod Stewart btw) splitting time with Florenzi and Defrel on that position. It’s not ideal but I rather go to war with Under than Iturbe. Actually,I’d rather go to war with a blind and deaf 90-year-old with Parkinsons than Iturbe.

ASRCanes: I don’t see Mahrez coming to Roma, so it would then seem that either Under or Defrel will be playing at RW for the time being until Florenzi returns. I could see Under getting minutes early this season and looking promising enough that he proves to be a solid bench option. Expecting him to come in and light it up almost seems like forcing him into becoming the next Iturbe.

Bren: The trouble with relying on Florenzi is simply that we don’t know when he’ll be back, to say nothing of how he’ll recover from two successive knee operations. I love the guy, but much like we did with Strootman all those years, we can’t count on him for anything. And if Monchi isn’t able to land another right winter before the window shuts, there is a massive opportunity for Under here. Defrel may have the advantage in age, experience and familiarity with EDF, but Under’s athleticism and shiftiness could play well on that right hand side. Every so often teenagers make their mark in top leagues, so why not him? Why not us? Why not now?

Sam: Expect him to make a bag full of mistakes but then occasionally offer glimpses of sunshine between the clouds. He’s a fantastic project for EDF to work on.

Jimmy: Starting right winger by the end of the season, off to a super-rich club next summer.

AsRemus: I like Under. His agility can hurt opponents; however, preseason games have shown his physical weakness. Age and some good’ ol iron pumping will do wonders for the kid. Honestly, I don’t expect much from him this year, but he could surprise us all. For now, it appears he’ll be a backup to Defrel or a hologram version of Mahrez. I’ll bite and say he scores 3 goals this season with a pair of assists.

11) What about Alisson? How confident are you in his ability to step up this year?

JonAS: Pretty confident, although he mustn’t act complacent as well or suddenly act cocky. He’s the undisputed no1 in Rome but that doesn’t mean he can make mistakes and not be punished for it. That’s why Skorupski staying would be a good thing. When one of the two makes a howler (and I mean Goicoechea territory with this) simply play the other name the next game. Keep both focused that way. Lukasz and Alisson both have a goal: The World Cup next season with Brazil and Poland. Lovely. Let the fight commence! *grabs popcorn*

Bren: I’m certainly going to be interested to see how long a leash he’ll be given by Monchi and EDF, neither of whom are beholden to him. Skorupski has proven, if nothing else, to be a top ten keeper in the league, so while Alisson may have greater long term potential, Skorupski could be the one to save EDFs job if it came down to it

Jimmy: It sounds to me that we might lose Skorupski by the time the summer market’s over; given that, I’m pretty sure that Alisson is viewed as the long-term solution at goalie. I think he’s got the ability, but it’ll be very important for him to get used to the harsh environment that Roma creates around the squad; if he loses confidence after one poor game, I don’t want to think about what happens next

AsRemus: He ain’t no Wojciech Szczęsny, but I think he’ll do alright. Fazio’s slow pace worries me more in EDF’s system. You see him get burned by Celta. Yikes.

ASRCanes: I already mentioned above that I am not 100% sold on Alisson. Skorupski put in two solid seasons at Empoli and I feel he deserved a chance at the starting spot.

Sam: I think he is a very good keeper who has the tools to become a dominant force in Serie A.

12) Roma’s MVP will be _______?

JonAS: Steve Nash? Kevin Durant? Oh, football you mean? Well, my obvious pick is Radja, Belgians unite! But look out for Perotti and Kolarov as well. And Gerson as the surprise package.

Bren: I’m impressed with your NBA knowledge, Jonas. Bravo. I’d agree with you on Nainggolan save for one thing, I don’t see as many goals coming from him under EDF, simply because he won’t be pushed as far into attack as he was under Spalletti, and indeed we’ve already seen it in the pre-season; EDF harping on Nainggolan’s defensive responsibilities. I just...ugh...EDF was the wrong pick for this team, plain and simple. Wait, I didn’t answer the question...haha. I’ll say Diego Perotti. If he’s given room to roam, he could easily pile up 10+ goals and assists.

ASRCanes: Stephan El Shaarawy if he can get the minutes and stay healthy, otherwise Edin Dzeko.

Sam: Francesco Totti.

Jimmy: The defense’s MVP will be Emerson Palmieri; the midfield’s MVP will be Kevin Strootman; the attack’s MVP will be Cengiz Under.

AsRemus: Radja Nainggolan. He’s got heart, soul, and an engine that never stops. EDF’s mediocre tactics won’t even bring him down.

13) As we’re doing this, the Champions League draw has yet to occur, but how far can Roma advance this year?

JonAS: Hahahahahahahahahaha. Ahum. Next question please.

Bren: Come on, I’ll say knockout stage at least.

JonAS: Well, it all depends on the draw and since we’re officially in pot 3, third place and EL after New Year should be the minimum for a club like Roma. Remember this is Eusebio’s first time in the CL, the EL with Sassuolo is child’s play compared to that. If we draw Benfica, Spartak or Donetsk from pot 1 and a team like Tottenham or Porto from pot 2, then knockout stage should be the target. But with Roma’s luck in the competition, we’ll probably get Real and PSG.

ASRCanes: How far COULD they go? I’ll be crazy and say quarter final. I see this to be a typical insane Roma season: they’ll finish fourth in Serie A but get a decent draw in the Round of 16 (I know I know, that’s impossible!) Then they’ll advance and make it to the quarters, where they crash out 10-2 on aggregate to some superteam!

Bren: Haha, you’re probably right, Canes. This does seem like a season in which nothing will make sense, but like Jonas said, it all depends on the draw, but the depth is certainly there to make a run.

Sam: Brand new formation with a team that hasn’t really played together before? Yeah this will go well.

Jimmy: The stars never seem to align for Roma in European competition, and if Roma is put in another Group of Death, I’m gonna have to get used to caring about the Europa League again. If the Gods look favorably on the Giallorossi and put us in an easier group than last year, I could see a quarter-finals appearance, but it would most likely come at the cost of second place in the league.

AsRemus: Playoffs!?

14) Alright, we talked a bit about it in part one, but where will Roma finish and why?

JonAS: I think I put them in third place which is good enough, you know, CL money baby! Right now I rate Juventus a little higher while Napoli didn’t lose their ‘Salah’ or ‘Rudiger’. Sure, Roma can beat both of them in a 1vs1 battle, but in the long run and after 38 games, I foresee both clubs leaping over our beloved Roma. That can all change though, if Monchi pulls another miracle or two out of his hat before August 31.

Bren: I believe I said third, so we’ll stick with that, but that’s if absolutely everything goes perfectly--Dzeko is in form, they find a solution on the right wing and the four man backline doesn’t completely implode. So that’s the best case, worst case I’d say sixth.

ASRCanes: Fourth. Best case third. Juve are still the team to beat, and Napoli kept their entire squad and coaching staff together while adding a few pieces as well. I can’t see this rebuild v316.8 of Roma finishing ahead of those two. The rest comes down to if Spalletti can get Inter’s shit together and if Milan can mold their cash into a coherent squad. I think TGIP can get it done, while Milan while stumble into fifth.

Sam: Probably fourth. I’m predicting a horrific opening to the season followed by a rally around November, December and then tapering off at the end. It is such a pity because the rest of Serie A is so exciting this year.

Jimmy: Second, with tantalizing moments where the Scudetto seems in reach.

15) Lastly, I want you to imagine it’s late January, Roma are struggling, maybe four points or so out of the CL spots, what are the odds Francesco Totti comes out of retirement to save our asses again?

Bren: I said in last years roundtable I thought he was coming back, and were it not for the club forcing him to “retire”, I think he’d still be lacing ‘em up. This was a bit of a facetious question of course, but Roma is always in need of miracles, so who better than Totti to deliver them?

JonAS: Dare to believe Bren. How awesome would it be, if Roma were down 1-2 against Torino at home at minute ‘85, when suddenly, the speakers at the Olimpico start shouting out:

“Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”

Boom! Francesco Totti rises from the catacombs of the stadium, rips his shirt and it shows a Roma jersey underneath. He takes the pitch for a tired Dzeko, immediately slots home a free-kick just outside the box and then finishes it two minutes later with a delightful cucchiaio from a Pellegrini assist. He runs to the Curva, celebrates with Radja, De Rossi and Florenzi, sucks his thumb. After the final whistle, he suddenly disappears among the crowd, the speakers are quiet once more. God is preparing himself for the next time Roma desperately needs him. Amen.

ASRCanes: I don’t think I can follow that up, JonAS. Damn !

If I were the president or whatever of Roma, Totti would still be playing. But anyway, in his current role, he would at least be on the training ground daily in his boots. While the guy is still in great shape and wants to have the ball at his feet, let him coach, mold, and train the youth of Roma. Imagine being a player in the Primavera and Totti shows up to training to teach you a thing or two about through balls or chipping the keeper? Incredible. And the best part? It’s all a ploy to secretly keep him in shape for his epic return in January to inevitably rescue Roma, because as Carlo Zampa said: “Sempre lui! Sempre lui il messia!”

Bren: Well, I mean, Michael Jordan came back from the front office to play for the Wizards, so anything is possible, and Gordie Howe played hockey until his 50s, right? I’m just saying, don’t count it out!

Sam: The King of Rome is not dead.

Jimmy: Francesco Totti’s retired?

AsRemus: I don’t deserve the last word here. Barring Totti saving us, I say we place fifth. Next year is a next year is a next year.

So that’s it for this season’s roundtable preview, but we’ll revisit the format throughout the season. Feel free to chime in with your answers to any or all of the questions.